Friday, 6 November 2009

Dave does god – now, there’s a surprise!

Our imminent new PM, Dave Cameron, was interviewed by the Evening Standard today about....Osborne, Afghanistan, VAT, Europe, Crossrail and....god: Dave said that he prayed regularly but did not fell he had a “direct line” to God. “If you are asking, do I drop to my knees and pray for guidance, no”, he said, adding that he had been a “questioning Christian” who struggled with tenets like the virgin birth. “But I do have faith and is it important, yes.”

Now, I didn’t have to think too hard to recall who that reminded me of....

Of course, our previous PM/war criminal/future Pope!

So, we’ll have the likely spectacle of Dave having his ‘beliefs’ influencing policy making – such as sending thousands of allied stormtroopers into an ‘infidel’ sovereign country in the guise of defeating terrorism. Hey, Dave, there is no evidence to support the God hypothesis whatsoever; to believe in something that has no basis in fact is futile.

So...this Blair-clone will continue to send more cannon fodder into Afghanistan in an unwinnable cause and wring his hands as the casualties mount up.

This all summons up one word....


Sunday, 26 July 2009

Now, what's all this about self-publishing?

Although Mrs R remains wonderfully positive about Murphy the merdog, I’ve got a nagging feeling that Murphy has not been received well. (I’ve had similar feelings about past work – a sitcom at the BBC) Surely, if my agent thought Murphy was great he would have been on the phone.....”Hey, Refugee, this Murphy is bloody amazing, I just couldn’t put it down, had to reread it and passed it immediately to Lars Von Trier...and he wants to start filming it next month...oh, and I’ve got a 10-figure book deal for 6 more Murphy books”.

So, I’ve been thinking....
Maybe I should think about self-publishing.
In my limbo hours I’ve looked at 4 different websites that publish books. I narrowed the sites down to 2 –
iUniverse and Lulu.
There is a major difference between these 2 companies. Whilst you pay up front for iUniverse to print your book, Lulu only prints ‘on demand’. I’ve looked at the Lulu ‘process’ for getting a book published – including getting an ISBN code and a listing on Amazon – and it looks fairly simple.

I’ll wait another week or two – when the illustrations/book cover have been completed.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

No news is good news....maybe!

After three weeks and further word from my agent...I’m not sure if that’s....
a) Bad news, or,
b) Good news.

The wait is rather daunting.
Mrs Refugee, who was the second person to read Murphy the merdog, remains unshakeably positive – what a brick she is!
Mrs R’s critique was...”very good indeed – it should be a film”.
I suppose I'd better get another couple of bars of Green & Black’s for Mrs R!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

The title is...’Murphy the merdog’

Murphy, the novel, has now sat with my agent, Ian, for a couple of weeks and, as a copyright is now implicit, I can reveal the title of the book is.....MURPHY THE MERDOG.
I had a short reply from Ian upon receipt of the book which made my heart sink – the publishing business is in a real funk and Ian had flagged up a couple of issues on the first 2-3 pages....gulp!

In the past week, I’ve also mentioned the title to a dozen friends now and....only about half of them ‘got’ the title of the book and understood the implications of a merdog. (Three remarked that Murphy was a ‘murdering’ dog!) In fact, it’s quite satisfying that some people didn’t realise what a merdog is. Which brings me to the cover illustration......

I’ve commissioned a superb illustrator, Cathy Balme, to execute the cover and, other work allowing, she should finish it by the end of the month.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Big problems with Dragon software

My Murphy revision is being hampered by my spending far too much time trying to resolve the problems with my Dragon software.
Despite online Help – or lack of help – from Nuance I’m persevering with the software; if the formatting switch can be activated then it will be a major aid to my work...but it’s not looking too good.

I’ve been doing a rewrite of the first 2 chapters – both difficult chapters to get just spot on. There are a dozen major characters and they have to be introduced quickly and precisely; there is also a fast-moving, changing situation that needs to be factored in.

Friday, 13 February 2009

‘Speaking in’ Murphy

I’ve started ‘speaking in’ the Chapter One and I’m having trouble with the Dragon software.....
I’m able to do just about everything that the software says should be accomplished within a Word document, except....that Dragon is not formatting correctly.
I tried reinstalling the software and starting over but the problem remains. phone Nuance (software company) to see if they can help.

I’ve had to abandon the first revision as soon as I’ve begun!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

First revision of Murphy and...Dragon

Whilst working on Murphy I’ve been starting to use Dragon Naturally Speaking software.
With a great deal of typing to carry out, not being able to touch type and a deteriorating nerve problem in the neck, I decided to take a slight chance and buy the software.
I set it up a few days ago, which was quick and easy to do, and I’ll start ‘talking in’ the first revision of Murphy.

I’ll keep an update on Dragon software but....I’m initially impressed.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was my Birthday and it was just great to have finished my first draft of ‘Murphy’.
So we had and enjoyable family day and I felt quite satisfied.

Monday, 9 February 2009

The Final Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter 32

Sarah and Bella leave home at the crack of daylight.....
Moriarty, the Prof and Herman leave to track Murphy....
Kate wakes up to find Bella and Sarah are missing, but they have left a note....
Kate phone Nick – he will return home immediately....
Moriarty and the Prof are in a plane, Herman and Blackie are in a 4x4....
Nick heads home in unconventional transport....
Archie drives Kate to the coast....
Sarah and Bella arrive at Horseshoe Cove....
Moriarty scours the coastline for Murphy....
Kate scurries to Horseshoe Cove to find the girls in trouble with the weather rapidly closing in....
The main players are converging at Horseshoe Cove.....
Sarah is swept into the sea – and is rescued by Archie, as Nick arrives....
Bella is knocked off her rock by a massive wave....
There is no sign of Bella under the sea...the weather relents and the sea calms...
There is a dramatic resolution!

The End!

14 pages : 3125 words

Friday, 6 February 2009

Chapter Thirty-One – Murphy disappears...completely!?

Chapter 31

Sarah and Bella hatch a plan...
Moriarty hears the bad news about Murphy...
And now, Murphy has disappeared...completely!?

4 pages : 1200 words

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Chapter Thirty - Murphy sends the Prof into ecstasy

Chapter 30

The Joshuas post flyers for the safe return of Murphy...
The Professor’s tests on Murphy send him into scientific ecstasy...
Kate phones the police...
The prof’s final test end in tragedy.

3½ pages : 1060 words

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Chapters Twenty-Eight, Twenty-Nine – Murphy is missing

Chapter 28 and Chapter 29

As I’m now reaching the final 3 or 4 chapters of the book it’s important that I can only relate the sketchiest of details from now on. Sorry!

The Joshuas find Murphy missing, BUT Murphy has gone walkabout before...
Murphy is in the kidnappers’ lair and he is being examined...
Scarlett admits to losing a photo of Murphy...
Kate phones Nick in Scotland to say that Murphy is missing.

6 pages : 1845 words

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Chapter Twenty-Seven – A mad French professor

Chapter 27 kidnap Murphy.

Enter a mad but brilliant French professor.

6 pages : 1820 words

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Thoughts on John Martyn 1948-2009

The Scene: The Apollo Victoria, 2 November 1980.
The time: 11 pm.

I’m standing offstage having just photographed two hours of the John Martyn Band in concert.
Martyn walks triumphantly off stage, nods perfunctorily at me and walks backstage.
The rest of the band follow him off.
The final member, drummer Phil Collins, bounds off and beams a smile at me and stops to talk.
COLLINS: Whaddya think then?
ME: Bloody amazing!
COLLINS: Get any good shots?
ME: Hope so.
COLLINS: D’ya wanna join us for a drink?
ME: Umm......I have to get these rolls to Melody Maker.
COLLINS: Beats standing on a street corner.
MARTYN: ‘Ere, Phil.
And Collins walks away to join Martyn , leaving me feeling...... (missed opportunity) bloody stupid!

I photographed many concerts, over a four-year period – some concerts I worked for the money; some concerts I worked, because I liked the artists; and this concert was one of those most rare concerts where I would’ve crawled to it. In fact, I recall that I did something I rarely did whilst snapping....I stopped numerous times during the gig just to look at/listen to Martyn’s extraordinary guitar work.

Fast forward to sometime in 1987.
The Scene: Chelsea Arts Club.

I walk in with my friend Charlie to meet our mutual mate Laurie, an Arts Club member.
I walk over to the bar to order drinks – standing there is John Martyn.
We get chatting and I recall the Apollo gig and how I missed the opportunity to have a post-gig evening with him and Phil Collins. He roars that fag-and-drink laden laugh of his and buys me a drink. And the same again on the next couple of occasions that I visit as well. A delight to know.

There are certain artists who mesmerise you with their brilliance – Richard Thompson, Jimi Hendrix, Nick Drake and Sandy Denny – and Martyn, from that first time I saw him in 1970 in Brighton with erstwhile wife Beverley, is in that hallowed band.
He was totally unique, a true visionary and the music resonates with amazing power.

(As I don’t have any prints of that show available I’ve had to use my contact strips to 'blow up' a couple of prints - apologies for the poor quality)

Friday, 30 January 2009

Chapter Twenty-Six – A devilish plan is hatched

Chapter 26

Nick has a 5-day photo-shoot in Scotland after which the rest of the Joshuas will go up to join him for a week’s holiday.

Meanwhile, Moriarty plots with Herman to......

4 pages : 1175 words

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Chapter Twenty-Five – Archie has his job back

Chapter 25

Scarlett is upset at losing Murphy’s photo and preoccupied with trying to find it, but she doesn’t tell anyone. Archie arrives at the Joshua House to thank Nick.

3 pages : 910 words

Friday, 23 January 2009

Chapter Twenty-Four – The Village Fete

Chapter 24

It is a glorious summer’s day and the Village Fete, which is held on Moriarty’s land - is opened by guest of honour Janet Street-Porter. Archie is helping Nick with his photo stall/auction and Kate and Sandy are looking after the organic fruit and veg stall. Sarah and Bella are walking Murphy round the show and stop at Herman’s ferret-racing stall.

The fete is doing incredibly well with record numbers of visitors. Nick’s photo auction is going well but the climax is a stunning photo of Moriarty’s land: Moriarty believes he will get this photo at a knock-down price but...he doesn’t count on a surprise bidder. Moriarty storms off.

Meanwhile, one of Herman’s ferrets has escaped and causes untold damage after a chase through numerous stalls. The ferret ends up in the children’s fancy dress parade. Scarlett is knocked over and loses her photo of Herman. The chapter ends with a confrontation between Nick and Moriarty at which Nick is delighted to gain the upper hand.

10 pages : 2640 words

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Happy Obama Day

A most welcome day. I enjoyed watching every heart-uplifting minute of it and in particular Bush’s cringed face when Obama tacitly punctured every Bushism of the previous regime. There may troubles ahead but there should be confidence that there is now a President of intelligence, integrity, passion and charisma. And to top it all, after 8 years, we have a President who can speak English.

Well, Barack, YES you can!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Chapters Twenty-Three – Kate’s mum arrives, Archie is sacked

Chapter 23

Kate’s mum, Ruth, arrives for a week and Nick ensconces himself in his darkroom printing photos for the Fete. When Nick goes for a break along to the village store he finds Archie looking disconsolate: he’s been sacked by Moriarty. Nick feels both responsible and furious.

4½ pages : 1240 words

Friday, 16 January 2009

Chapters Twenty-Two – Nick shoots, with Archie to the rescue

Chapter 22

Nick returns from a photo-shoot to find that he has only 3 days to provide a portfolio of photos for the Village Fete. So, early one Sunday morning Nick ventures out, with Murphy in tow, to take a series of local landscapes.

The photography is going well and he meets up with Archie who is out jogging. They walk on for a while until they come across...Herman, using illegal traps on a bird of prey near Moriarty’s massed pheasant pens. By now Blackie has become enamoured with Murphy and they go to greet one another but there is danger and Murphy saves Blackie from a hidden trap. Herman sees this and thinks that Murphy has attacked Blackie and is about to shoot Murphy. Archie barrels Herman to the ground distracting his shot and he is left with Herman's threat resounding in his ears.

3 pages : 1780 words

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Chapters Twenty & Twenty-One – School wraps up, The village Fete

Chapter 20

The following 3 weeks of the summer involves the end of the school term, work away for Nick and occasional visits to the coast where Murphy is in his element. School is out and the next big event is...The Village Fete.

Chapter 21

The end of term is marked by a family visit to the coast and everyone in the Joshua family goes into the sea to swim – except Bella. Not even Murphy’s exhortations towards Bella will overcome her fear of water.
The Rev Julia visits Kate and asks for her input with the Village Fete. Kate suggests a fruit and veg stall of her own garden produce; and she volunteers (an absent) Nick will provide some of his photos for a stall. Julia of course is delighted.

7½ pages : 2345 words

Monday, 12 January 2009

Chapter Nineteen (cont’d) – Meeting with a previous acquaintance...

Chapter 19 (continued)

After resting, Murphy tucks into some vegetarian lunch and there to greet the Joshuas is the kindly and prescient old Irishman, Francis, who happens to be beachcombing. This enhances the mystery behind Murphy and they leave Horseshoe Cove with a great deal to think about.

4 pages : 1220 words

Friday, 9 January 2009

Chapter Nineteen – More revelations at Horseshoe Cove

Chapter 19

The Joshuas head to the coast. Murphy indicates, by barking furiously, that Nick should head down a dirt track road. The car ends up on a high cliff which leads down to an isolated cove in the shape of a horseshoe. There is a treacherous clamber down to the beach and Murphy delights in diving into the sea.
There are further revelations in this chapter.

5½ pages : 1520 words

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Chapter Eighteen – The Joshuas settle as summer rolls on...

Chapter 18

Life settles into a routine as the summer rolls on.......
School appears to be going well.
Even though the house is in an awful state, the Joshuas are delighted with the Hardstaffs work.
Murphy is well integrated in his new life.
Kate begins a new project.
Nick has days away, on the various photo-assignments.
Finally, the Joshuas decide to take Murphy to the coast.

3 pages : 880 words

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Chapter Seventeen – Life returns to ‘normal’

Chapter 17

Life returns to ‘normal’ for the Joshuas, except that, out of the blue, the Hardstaff brothers phone to say they are able to work on the house ... starting tomorrow! The Joshuas are stunned but are also delighted that their house will soon be in a more habitable state. The next day the Hardstaffs turn up and begin to demolish the inside of the house.
Chaos soon reigns!

2 pages : 600 words

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Chapter Sixteen – The Revelation

Chapter 16

The Joshuas transfer the film of Murphy swimming onto the computer and watch it back with some delight. Just then, Moriarty arrives with an apology for Kate – he is condescending and Nick becomes annoyed. At the same time, there is a revelation as the film plays in the background. Nick humbles Moriarty out of the house, and they watched the film back one small – they are all stunned at what they see. Murphy is not what he appears to be. Now they must decide whether they should keep Murphy!?

3½ pages : 1120 words

Monday, 5 January 2009

Chapters Fifteen – Murphy swims

Chapter 15

Hughesy arrives with the post one morning and is introduced to Murphy; only Hughesy has already seen Murphy at Boggle Lake (on Moriarty’s land). Kay says that that’s impossible as it's 8 miles away, but Hughesy says that Murphy is unmistakable.

The new video camera is used for the first time, and Murphy is the favourite subject to film. Julia and Archie visit to meet the new family member, but he’s missing. Scarlett thought that she saw him heading down to the Beck behind the house and they go on a Murphy-hunt. Sarah is filming when they find Murphy, swimming like an otter in the beck. Naturally, the family is surprised.

5 pages : 1500 words